State Representative John Kefalas Introduces House Bill 1147 to Create Safer Streets for Colorado Children

Denver_capitalSafer Streets for Colorado Children (Safe Streets 2010)

Title: Concerning Safer Use of NonMotorized Wheeled Transportation by Minors

Sponsors: Rep. John Kefalas  & Sen. Bob Bacon

What the HB-1147 does:

  1. Codifies into law the existing bicycle and pedestrian policy directive of the Dept. of Transportation (DOT).
  2. Requires the Departments of Transportation, Education and Public Safety to collaborate with local governments, school districts, and appropriate organizations to develop and make available to schools, under the auspices of the DOT Safe Routes to School Program, a comprehensive educational curriculum for minors regarding the safe use of public streets and premises by users of nonmotorized wheeled transportation and pedestrians.
  3. Requires that a minor wear a protective helmet while using nonmotorized wheeled transportation (including bicycles, scooters, in-line skates and skateboards) on public streets and premises.  A violation of this requirement is an unspecified traffic infraction, NOT subject to any penalty.  A law enforcement or public safety officer MAY enforce this requirement by stopping a minor or an accompanying adult and providing a “safety information card” that explains risk of not wearing a helmet and where the minor may obtain a fee or low-cost helmet in the community, if cost is an issue.

4 Reasons to support HB-1147 and benefits to Colorado communities:

  1. It is in the public interest to make our streets safe for all users including motorists, transit users, pedestrians and users of other types of nonmotorized wheeled transportation.
  2. Educates and protects our children while promoting safe bicycling, walking and other physical activity.
  3. May decrease the number of bicycle and other nonmotorized wheeled transportation-related injuries, including severe nonfatal brain injuries, and may lower individual and societal costs associated with hospital emergency room admissions due to bicycle-related accidents.
    1. The enforcement mechanism is intended to provide a learning experience for the young person or accompanying adult and a community policing opportunity for the law enforcement officer.  Discretionary enforcement of helmet requirement is EDUCATIONAL ONLY, NOT PUNITIVE.

Statistics & Background

  1. Bicycling is a safe & healthy activity yet, on average, 11 bicyclists are killed & 540 bicyclists are hospitalized annually in Colorado due to injuries sustained in bicycle crashes.
  2. Children between the ages of 5 & 14 have the highest rate of bicycle-related hospital admissions and almost 1/3 of such children suffer brain injuries.
  3. Colorado has an interest in preventing and mitigating the severity of such injuries as the economic cost to an individual and to society of a single severe nonfatal brain injury can exceed $2 Million.
  4. In 2004, the Colorado General Assembly passed the Safe Routes to School legislation , which improves safety and encourages more children to safely walk and bicycle to school.
  5. In October 2009, the Dept. of Transportation adopted an administrative policy to enhance safety & mobility for bicyclists & pedestrians on our state roadways.

Initial supporters of HB-1147: Bicycle Colorado, The Children’s Hospital, Brain Injury Collaborative, Fort Collins Bicycle Cooperative, Healthier Communities Coalition of Larimer County, Safe Kids Larimer County, Live Well La Plata, and many other organizations.


5 Responses

  1. No concerns over the recent data that has found that helmet laws actually decrease cycling levels, especially in children?

  2. Thanks, Verna. It is a double edged sword, isn’t it? Here’s the evolution of that bill: under pressure from constituents Representative Kefalas contacted the Co-op asking about the advisability of a mandatory helmet law. We told him that from our perspective what we really need is bicycle safety education – for everyone. Then he came up with the Complete Streets concept to “accommodate all users of public streets, including bicyclists and pedestrians.” So the package that came out is this three-pronged bill aimed MOSTLY at educating everyone, including the Colorado Dept. of Transportation, to make safer streets. We know that the helmet law by itself would never fly. We also know that many bicycle advocacy groups,including Bicycle Colorado, normally don’t support helmet laws. But we also know from the injury prevention people that helmets save lives and a law automatically drives helmet use up 15-20%. Because of the educational portion and the complete streets component, Bicycle Colorado is solidly behind this bill. So are Denver Children’s Hospital and Kaiser Permanente.

  3. QUOTE: “we also know from the injury prevention people that helmets save lives”
    Specifically where do you get that from? I know of no study that shows that bicycle helmets save lives. It would be interesting if you would cite the source.

  4. The way the bill is worded, my kid would also be required to wear a helmet while in a stroller, but not while in a seat attached to the end of my bike (since I’d be ‘pulling’ them). Seems a bit dumb to me.

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